Today kicked off the Kanto leg of the 52nd Single handshake event festivities. There are two events at Makuhari this weekend, followed by an event in late-August, one more in Nagoya, and then the finale at Makuhari in October. I purchased CDs/tickets for this event, and the October event. Given that I skipped all of the August events for both Jabaja and Teacher Teacher, it is going to be quite a while until I go to an AKB48 handshake meeting, unless of course they offer resale for the August 28th event, or there is a National Handshake event. I haven’t been in the best of health over the last week, as I seemed to have caught a bit of a cold. Plus, I have a toothache, school stress, and it is hot as hell here in Tokyo. I probably would have been better served staying in bed. But, duty calls. I had idols to meet!
For me there was also the issue of “oshi-mashi” Since I have become a new fan of AKB’s 3rd Gen draftees, I kinda want to talk to them. Luckily I had a couple “expendible” tickets that I could use, so no worries. Just as long as the lanes in question were open for oshi-mashi. So I had a game plan, I got to Makuhari right at the start of Slot 2, suffered through the long walk in the hot sun to get to Halls 9-11, got my tickets stamped, and was off to meet idols…
Sakaki Miyu <Cuca> (Lane 69) with Mineyoshi Arisa: One of the unique features of this event was the “doubling-up” of some of the members in the lanes. It didn’t necessarily mean you were meeting both members, although technically you could interact with both. They would call out which member you were there to see, and they would reach out to do the handshake. I had never met, or seen Mineyoshi before, so she just watched. But I asked Cuca if she had fun in her play (of course she did) I mentioned I checked the official website and twitter and saw all the photos and videos of her from the performance. I loved the purple hair! Cuca was like “Yeah, purple” and motioned toward her hair. Anyway, always good to see Cuca
By the way, AKB has re-started their “Dare ka no Tame ni” promotion, I am guessing to help with the flooding disaster in and around Kansai, Chugoku, and Shikoku. When I was at the theater last week the members came out before the show to do a collection. Today, the STU48 members were doing the same thing at a booth in the convention hall. The members came out randomly, and they announced who was there on the big screens. People were milling around the area waiting for their favorite members to come out so they could donate to them. I am guessing Cuca probably participated in the morning, before I got there.
Akiyoshi Yuka (Lane 54) I had three tickets for Yukachan today, one in this slot and two in the next slot. Yukachan was one of the members who they had to add slots for during the initial sale because she sold out so quickly. As a result, none of her slots were starred for oshi-mashi. However, her line stayed pretty short all day. For this encounter I asked about her performance at the AKB48 theater this coming Tuesday. HKT is in the middle of their “business trip” performing at other group theaters. This week Teams H and TII are at the AKB48 Theater. Anyway, she said she would do her best, and I told her that I hoped I won and got to see her.
Otake Hitomi (Lane 94) <oshi-mashi> After seeing the Idol Shugyou Chu! stage for the third time, I had resolved that Hitomi was a member I really wanted to meet. So I ended up using my Komiyama Haruka ticket to oshi-mashi this lane. I am still yet to meet Komiharu, I keep using her tickets on other people, LOL. Anyway, I got to the lane just after they called the 30-minute mark, and a bunch of people jumped into her queue. They ended up bringing over a supervisor to help with the line, and problems ensued. But first let me get the handshake experience out of the way. My first impression was that she looks A LOT younger in person than she does on the stage. A lot younger than 19. She immediately recognized me. “I see you at the Theater!” Yes! I told her I was impressed with her performance, and really wanted to meet her. She happily thanked me, and I was on my way.
When the supervisor took my ticket, she asked me something about my ID, acting like it wasn’t approved, which is nonsense. Then she said my name didn’t match. Now I’m rolling my eyes. She was about to reject me and send me to the info booth, when she noticed my tickets were stamped. She immediately changed her tune. I explained to her that the fact my name doesn’t match is the fault of chara-ani, as it does not give me enough room to spell my entire name. What further ticks off about this is that she is a supervisor. I changed my name on chara-ani a couple years ago based on their suggestion. Nobody has had an issue with it at all until this moment. Moreover, I don’t even need to get my tickets stamped for SKE or HKT anymore. So once again, they need to stop this crap. There is no way these tickets would belong to anyone other than me, despite a couple of omitted characters due to length.
Tani Marika (Lane 35) I queued up early for Tani as I had five tickets for this slot, and figured this would potentially be the longest queue. When they opened the gate, nobody went in, which may have been because there was a fan who I guess had over 100 tickets for Nakano Airi. He was in there for probably between 20-30 minutes right up to the beginning of Tani’s slot. Eventually I decided “screw it” and jumped into the queue. When the guy finally finished I knelt down while fans waved goodbye to her. After check-in I was waiting first in queue at the booth. The girl doing the timing for the lane to my left was totally adorable. She needed to be an idol. She caught me checking her out, smiled, and nodded. I would have more encounters with her later too. Marika eventually came out. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to talk about, so I basically commented about her recent haircut. Marika seemed kinda “whatever” about the entire exchange. Maybe she hadn’t kicked into Tani-gear yet, maybe it was an off day, or maybe she’s just getting tired of dealing with me. We will see next month if she acts similarly at the SKE handshake event.
The next two lanes I went back and forth, despite them being in different parts of the hall. I had time…
Akiyoshi Yuka (Lane 54) <2 tickets> Once again, quite a short queue considering she sold the slot out early. I had forgotten to ask her about her guitar playing. When she started posting videos of herself on Twitter singing and playing guitar, I was quite surprised and impressed. I told her I play Bass Guitar, and inquired about possibly doing a duet with her, LOL. Laughing, she was like “Yeah, okay.”
It was during this slot I decided to take my ticket necklace off as it was cutting into my neck, and making me sweat. So when I returned for the third time Yukachan immediately noticed my Wasamin T-shirt, although per usual nobody notices the Wasamin part, they just see the big Ebi and Heart on the shirt. When I pointed out Wasamin’s name she said “Wasamin, kawaii!” I explained to her that Wasamin loves Ebi, so we made this shirt for her Seitensai. And with that I bid my farewell, I will see her again at the HKT event in two weeks.
Kobayashi Ran (Lane 101) <2 tickets> with Katsumata Saori: I was really excited to see Ranchan again after skipping her at the last event. Plus, I had some good reactions recently with her at the theater. This was another one of the 2-member lanes. I have seen Saorin perform before, but had never met her. To no surprise, Ranchan immediately reacted to seeing me and reached out over the railing to grab my hands. I mentioned that I have now seen her at the theater three times, and that I always “call” her name. She paused, and in her best English responded “I can hear you.” She wasn’t sure she said it correctly, and turned to Saorin, who just shrugged, LOL. I told her I understood perfectly, and repeated her words back to her. Before I got pushed out I exclaimed that Ranchan’s English was Jouzu!
I wanted to see her again, so I decided to oshi-mashi my Yamauchi Suzuran ticket. (Ranran, for Ranchan, hahaha) Since it was a 2-member lane, when you check in they put a sticker on the ticket for the girl you want to see. They started to put a Saorin sticker on my ticket, but I said “I want Kobayashi-san!” So they changed it. When I got into the booth, the two of them both noticed my Wasashirt. “Ebi?” So I told them it was a Wasamin shirt. “Wasamin?” She’s an AKB graduate. They both still looked puzzled, so I then went with “Enka singer!” With that it looked like something may have clicked, but I’m not sure. But my time was up, so I quickly said I would see her again before getting pushed out.
Fuchigami Mai (Lane 42) Maichan’s queue only had five people in it, so I got in line before it became to crazy. Her lane was positioned near the curtain where all the HKT members were coming out. When Maichan came through the curtain she looked dazzlingly cute, as always. Keeping the a theme, I asked her about Team KIV’s upcoming performance in Nagoya. I told her if I can win I will come to Nagoya and watch. To this she responded that she hopes I do win because she would like me to see a Team KIV performance. I thanked her, and I got pushed out.
Yamauchi Mizuki (Lane 91) At this point I am becoming more and more excited about meeting Zukki. One of the other Zukki fans in the queue was asking if I oshi her, and I explained that my oshi is Wasamin. Just then, my friend Kentaro, another Wasamin oshi came out the exit of Miyupon’s lane. He was looking to see who I was going to see and exclaimed “Lucky Zukki!” I had forgotten that part of her catchphrase, so when I came into the booth I greeted her that way too. I complimented her on her cute hat and earrings, and told wished her luck performing with Team TII on Monday. I tried to say that I hoped to win, but stumbled on the verb conjugation of ataru. BTW, I applied for the show, but ultimately didn’t win
I only had one ticket for Slot 5, so technically I had around one hour and 45 minutes before I needed to use the ticket. I had spent most of the day keeping cool by eating kakigori at what was by far the most popular food truck at the venue. But I decided to brave the heat and walk back to the mall by the train station and relax for a while.
Yamane Suzuha (Lane 80) Oddly enough, this particular Zunchan slot was open for oshi-mashi (her others weren’t) Given there weren’t a lot of oshi-mashi lanes for this event, the queue would surely become very big at the 30-minute mark. With that in mind, I went to queue up around 3:25. The line was really short. This would be troubling since I wanted to read her signs. I tried to quickly read it, but beyond a few of the easier sentences, I couldn’t get the overall theme. So essentially I told her that I really wanted to read it, but it was troubling because the line moved so quickly. It was cute, as she leaned in really close trying very hard to understand what I was telling her. And she then explained to me that she posts pictures of her signs on her mobame. “So desu ka!?” However, I failed to tell her that I don’t subscribe to any mobame. If I did, her’s would definitely be one that I would read. Oh, and the guard practically yelled “mamonaku desu” right in my ear, which also threw me off.
Murakawa Bibian (Lane 40) I tried to move my Bibian ticket into Slot 5, but her lane wasn’t starred for any of her slots. Her line was around 10-deep when I arrived at the beginning of the slot. Per usual, the always-genki Bibian was dressed very casual and sporty. I was trying to decide what to say to her, perhaps talk about Produce48? But when I entered the lane I noticed she was wearing this really wacky T-shirt with title “Kitty” on top, some blonde haired girl, and a bunch of random writing all over it. I am guessing the girl on the shirt somehow related to Western pop culture, but I had no idea who it was. I asked Bibian, but she said she had no idea. I laughed; “Yeah, me neither.” I quickly wished her luck in Produce48 as I left the lane. Unfortunately on the photo she posted on Twitter she cut off the shirt right at the face.
Around Slot 5, I was toying with the idea of doing oshi-mashi with my one remaining Slot 7 ticket (for Kaotan) since I was tired, fighting my cold, and didn’t feel like waiting another hour and 45 minutes to do one last ticket. So during Slots 5 and 6 I was roaming the venue to see if I could find another girl I wanted to meet. The problem was that since this is the SSK voting single, *starred* lanes are few and far between. I did find a couple of lanes I was mildly interested in, specifically Yamada Noe from NGT and Kurosu Haruka from 16th Gen, but both lanes had huge queues with other people doing oshi-mashi. I decided to abandon the mission, and just wait it out. After all, it IS Kaotan. I think she would be really mad if she knew I used her ticket on someone else, although truthfully it wouldn’t have been the first time.
Matsumura Kaori (Lane 34) <2 tickets> Kaotan had a relatively big queue. Well, bigger than it usually is. Also, this is the lane where the cute ‘timer’ girl was working. I had on all my Kaotan gear, so I was getting a lot of acknowledgement from the other fans. I wanted to talk about her horse racing appearances, but I didn’t know how to say it in Japanese. I know horse though. So when I got into the lane I asked her about the horses, and then said “horse racing” in English. She started motioning “around and around” and I was like “Yeah.” I was trying to get out my personal history with horse racing, but the guard was pushing me out pretty forcefully, so I couldn’t finish what I was saying.
(2nd ticket, in Slot 7) I ended up waiting out the 100 minutes, and in the meantime got into a nice conversation with one of the big Kaotan fans. Interestingly, he asked my why I liked her, which is something Kaotan has asked me in the past. It couldn’t be because she is cute. But I countered that I do think Kaotan is cute. Mind you, she’s not the Sakura/Mayuyu/Paruru type, but she is cute in her own way. In any case, we exchanged Twitter. I ended up being first in line, which was a great move for a couple reasons. 1) I got to stand next to the cute timer-girl for like 20 minutes. 2) Like with Maichan, Kaotan’s lane was right by the SKE entrance curtain, and I got to see half the group come out for their slots. And 3) When Sato Kaho came out, she briefly came over into Kaotan’s booth to specifically attempt to fish me. I don’t know if she remembered we had met before, but it was a fun exchange. Anyway…
By this time I had looked up Horse Racing (Keiba) and was ready for my story. Kaotan asked if I liked horses. I told her that when I was a child my dad would take me to the horse races almost every weekend. Even now, it is my Dad’s favorite thing to do. Kaotan asked about my mom. Uhhhh, I didn’t want to tell her my mom passed away 12 years ago. So I said that I only went with my Dad. Anyhow, I think she liked my story. Maybe some other time I will share with her about my mother.
Finally I was done with my tickets. I couldn’t wait to get out of there. On my way home I passed by Oktoberfest. Since it was by the station I had to transfer, I decided to go up and have one beer for the road. However, when I finally got home my body pretty much called it a day. Every muscle ached, my jaw hurt, my cold was kicking back in, and I had been bitten by multiple mosquitoes. I collapsed into bed and catatonically watched the Japanese dub of one of the Transformers movies until I mercifully dozed off to sleep.
Like I said, I have no tickets for the next few AKB48-group handshake events, so unless I get resale for August I will be taking a bit of a break. However, I do have tickets for both of HKT48’s August handshake dates, and today (while I was writing this) I picked up a few handshake tickets for SKE48’s August event. So at least I am covered for Yukachan, Kaotan, Tani, Maichan, and a few others. I have a couple of surprise tickets in there too which I am excited about.
CK in Tokyo